BRS/BREC hosts third annual alumni basketball game

Bobcats of all ages came out in support of the third annual alumni basketball game on Thursday. Each year this event serves as a fundraiser for groups and activities at Blue Ridge School and Early College. This year, funds were raised for the 7th- and 8th-grade Mountain to Sea field trip, prom, and the athletic department.   

Forty-Five graduates from BREC, BRS, and Glenville School showed up for Thursday night’s game along with current students, faculty and staff, and community members. Twenty alumni battled through two intense 10-minute quarters before halftime and two fierce 15-minute quarters during the second half. Referees, Nick Pressler and Elijah Reece, didn’t make things easy for alumni players, issuing technical fouls to players who shot air balls. 

Fisher Druffel drives up the court on Thursday.

Pressler and Reece also made each player who shot an air ball sit the bench after each technical.  Reece even came onto the court to give Clay Bryson, who graduated from BRS in 1995, a technical foul for talking back to the referee.

Alumni players were mostly all business during the first half, but after halftime they resorted to monkey business, like attempting to get piggyback rides from their opponents. The final score was 104 to 103, but everyone left with a smile on his or her face because when the alumni play, all Bobcats win.

This game has grown in popularity over the past three years because it’s more than a game to those who come out to play and cheer for the alumni, it’s about reliving past memories and modeling Bobcat pride for future generations.  

Representing the class of 1994, graduate Jim Madden said he was still sore on Saturday, but always looks forward to this annual event. 

“I think it is great for the school,” said Madden. “I always look forward to the game and seeing everyone. Playing on that court with a crowd brings back some of the best memories of my life.” 

Among the alumni in attendance were Jeremy and Samantha Robinson who graduated from BRS in 2000. Samantha, who chose to watch the game this year and cheer on her favorite Bobcat player (husband Jeremy).

“It was awesome to watch Jeremy run around with all of those young kids,” said Robinson. “He’s still got it!” 

Jeremy Robonsin drains a bucket while referee Elijah Reece keeps things honest as referee.

She added that she is proud to be a Bobcat and a Bobcat mom. 

“To me being a Bobcat means community pride, life-long friendships, and amazing memories.  I attended Blue Ridge School from kindergarten through my senior year. I loved being a Bobcat, and I love that my oldest daughter is now a Bobcat.” 

Jeremy said that the game makes him feel old. 

“Really for me, it’s a special feeling to play in the gym and see all of the younger guys come out,” he said. “It’s cool because I learned some of my most important life lessons playing the game, and to see others come out and see them enjoy competition like I do is fun.” 

Elyse King played in this year’s alumni game and also helped to design the t-shirts. 

“I feel incredibly honored to share the alumni night with so many wonderful players,” said King. “We have the floor for one night a year, and it’s so much fun to get out there and give it all you’ve got.  I think the alumni event is an opportunity for us to be examples to the youth in the community. Play with pride.” 

This year’s alumni game was memorable for King. 

“There are so many moments that stand out starting with our National Anthem so sweetly performed by Mrs. Audrey Rice,” she said. “That alone sends me back in time. I was so proud to see two classmates and life-long friends, Dandro and Beyer, suiting up. At the start of the game, my team asked me to pick the starting lineup. That was honoring! Also, the moment the refs decided Ben had scored enough and called a turnover each time he touched the ball.  And who could forget Venus’ victory dance at the end of the game.” 

Kaylee O’Dwyer sets up on defense at the third annual Bobcat alumni game.

Kaylee O’Dwyer, who graduated from BREC in 2015, said this event is important because it reunites people. 

“This event is important for the school and community because it brings everyone together,” said O’Dwyer. “It helps keep everyone connected to the school. Even though Cashiers is a small town, there are a lot of people that I never get to see. The alumni game helps bring everyone together and reconnect. I was able to play with some old teammates and it brought back a lot of memories from high school. Blue Ridge is a very special place, and I’m very blessed to be able to be part of the bobcat family. Once a bobcat, always a bobcat!”

Anna Stewart, who represented the class of 2017 in Thursday’s game, said she enjoys getting to play in this game each year. 

“Playing against all others who played the same sport and have the love for it is really awesome,” said Stewart. “I love getting to play against people who I looked up to growing up and who might have looked up to me. It’s a great way to see how much talent is, and was, at Blue Ridge over the years.” 

Jade Bryson took it to the hoop in the third annual Bobcat alumni game.

BRS Principal Teri Walawender said the alumni game is always a good time.

“It is great to see alumni returning to Blue Ridge to participate in such a fun event,” she said. “It allows our entire community to connect with former students in a fun, purposeful way and helps to build an even stronger community through the shared experience.” 

Walawender added having alumni return to Blue Ridge provides inspiration for current students.

“This event provides an opportunity for staff and students alike to see former graduates who are now serving out in our community and beyond as professionals who exemplify what it means to be a Bobcat.  That is both rewarding and inspiring.  This also allows our current student body to see the many goals they can achieve through hard work and commitment, and emphasizes the support that they have as part of the Blue Ridge community.”

This was BREC Principal Dr. Tracie Metz’s first Bobcat Alumni Game.  

“This event provided an opportunity for our students to connect with members of our community,” said Metz. “It reinforced our ‘green and gold’ school pride. Our BR Graduates are wonderful people and provide so much support to our current students! It’s great to have an evening for our whole BR family.”  

In preparation for the big game, Metz and Walawender spruced up the trophy cases in the School’s entryway.

“As we prepared for the games, we freshened up the trophy cases. It was thrilling to see so many of those who contributed to our school success shine during the Alumni games. These trophies represent real people and real teams of our community.”

Sponsors for this year’s game included Ballentine Electrical Contracting, Dearl Stewart Construction, Druffel Electric, High Altitude, Jeff Madden Trucking and Excavating, Jennings Custom Homes, Lazy Acres Farm, LJM Trucking, LLC, Moss Stone Service, Realtor Shepard King, Smathers Excavating, and The Man With The Van. 

Article by Kristy McCall
Photos by Sandy Jennings

Team rosters:

Bobcats (grey t-shirts)

Jeremy Robinson—2000

Chris Beyer—2003

Eric Fralinger—2003

Kenny Rice—2006

Venus Ramirez—2013

Kaylee O’Dwyer–2015

April Arnst—2017

Phillip Arnst—2019

Fisher Druffel—2019

Guest (black t-shirts)

Jim Madden—1994

Clay Bryson—1995

Elyse King—2003

Sage Kinsey—2010

Dale Riddle—2014

Gage Sistare—2015

Cristian Mireles—2015

Michael Jennings—2016 

Ben Ridde—2016

Anna Stewart—2017

Hunter Fowler—2018

Jade Bryson—2019

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